The RED TAPE Challenge

The burden on businesses to comply with health and safety laws must be reduced and regulations made more industry-specific, according to the British Chambers of Commerce, as it revealed that 47% of businesses it questioned as part of a recent survey identified health and safety as a burden.

The BCC reveals that nearly a fifth (18%) of sole traders identified health and safety regulation as a major barrier to recruiting their first employee.

Calculating the cumulative cost of health and safety regulation at more than £4 billion, the BCC report calls for:

  • health and safety regulations to be streamlined and simplified to reduce costs and make legislation more effective;
  • regulations to be tailored to the risk level of the workplace to reduce the burden on low-risk businesses;
  • the self-employed to be exempt from certain health and safety legislation,
  • the elimination of any instances of EU health and safety directives duplicating existing domestic regulations and imposing extra burdens on business.

Commenting on the report, the Director-General,  said:

“The UK has a good record on health and safety and preventing accidents at work. However, employers are dealing with a multitude of regulations that do not necessarily add to the safety of workers.

The Government’s Red Tape Challenge lists 131 separate health and safety regulations. The sheer volume of rules causes confusion for employers, particularly among smaller firms without the resource to tackle this.”

The report suggests that the amount of legislation that businesses deal with has led, in many cases, to a ‘tick-box’ attitude, which is in conflict with the principles of good health and safety legislation. A tick-box culture means not properly modelling the risks and being too administration-focused instead of undertaking a proportionate assessment of the risks in the workplace.

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